2009-04-09 / Sports

Jeff Gordon Breaks Texas Jinx

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

FT. WORTH, Texas - Jeff Gordon broke a 17-race winless jinx at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday in the 334-lap Sprint Cup Samsung 500.

Ironically, it was Gordon's pit crew that helped propel him to his first win since October 2007.

"You guys gave me a win, I love you guys," said Gordon after taking the checkered flag ahead of his teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon had lost the lead to Carl Edwards with 38 laps remaining. Two laps later, a caution came out after David Stremme spun in turn 3. All the lead lap cars pitted.

Johnson's team gave him a super quick stop that put him back in the lead, while Edwards was mired back in 11th.

It shaped up to be a 26-lap Texas Stampede, with Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, and Mark Martin right behind Gordon.

But the action never happened. Johnson and Biffle were able to get by Stewart, but neither had anything for Gordon and his No. 24.

Gordon pulled away from the other four front-runners, sometimes by as much as 1.85-seconds, on his way to his first-ever victory at Texas.

Could Jeff Gordon be poised for another championship?

Jimmie Johnson's runner-up finish was his fourth straight top 10.

Greg Biffle's third-place finish moved him from 23rd in points to 15th.

Tony Stewart finished fourth and moved up from seventh to fifth in the points.

Top-10 finishers: 1. Jeff Gordon, 2. Jimmie Johnson, 3. Greg Biffle, 4. Tony Stewart, 5. Matt Kenseth, 6. Mark Martin, 7. Juan Montoya, 8. Kurt Busch, 9. Jeff Burton, 10. Carl Edwards

Polesitter David Reutimann finished 11th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 18th.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 7 of 36: 1. J. Gordon-1154, 2. Johnson-992, 3. Ku. Busch-974, 4. Bowyer-967, 5. Stewart-963, 6. Hamlin-938, 7. Ky. Busch-914, 8. Edwards-889, 9. Kenseth-864, 10. Kahne-851, 11. Reutimann-845, 12. Burton-835

Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders after 5 of 35: 1. Edwards- 799, 2. Ky. Busch-761, 3. Ragan- 653, 4. Leffler-612, 5. Allgaeir-600, 6. Harvick-576, 7. Keselowski-568, 8. Gaughan-564, 9. Keller-540, 10. Lagasse-538

Top-10 Camping World Truck Series leaders after 4 of 25: 1. Ky. Busch-682, 2. Bodine-644, 3. Hornaday 611, 4. Skinner-606, 5. Crafton-561, 6. Cook-528, 7. Benson 515, 8. McCumbee-505, 9. Peters 503, 10. Crawford-496

There have been several published reports that NASCAR is considering moving the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet from New York City to Las Vegas.

In an interview at Texas, Chairman Brian France said NASCAR is indeed considering moving the banquet from New York City, where it has staged its postseason awards ceremony since 1981.

"We're looking at our options and have been for a couple of months, not just Las Vegas but a couple of other markets and we might very well end up back in New York, too," France said. "It's a great tradition that we've had there. There needs to be some compelling reasons - mainly saving money for the industry."

For years, Bristol Motor Speedway has been known for producing some of the most exciting racing in NASCAR. Whether that was true in this year's Food City 500 is in the minds of those who watched the race.

The television commentators and most journalists who covered the event would have fans believe it was indeed exciting.

But some stay-at-home fans thought otherwise. According to the television figures, the race was watched by 18 percent fewer fans than in 2008.

There are two different race perspectives. Which one is true?

Kyle Busch led 378 of the 503 laps on the way to his second Cup win of the season, while his teammate Denny Hamlin finished second.

Other than a few tense moments in lap traffic, battles for the lead were scarce. Busch was so dominant that he made it appear as if everyone else in the field had sick engines under their hoods. From my perspective, there was not as much bumping and banging as we usually see on a short track.

Overall, the race lacked the drama that ignites fan emotions.

But there was some action. Juan Montoya gave Jamie Mc- Murray a bump almost sending him into the wall. Montoya was warned.

Overall, if you like intense action, which is normally associated with racing at Bristol, you were disappointed.

If your driver won, or had a good finish, then you probably enjoyed the race.

One thing that contributed to fewer cautions and less bumping and banging at Bristol was the resurfacing of the track.

The physical nature of Bristol racing has been greatly diminished because the track now has two racing grooves. The extra width of the track has made the passing a lot less eventful.

Many longtime fans miss the old Bristol where drivers had to use a car's bumper to make a pass and, as a result, there was always drama on and off the track.

The new Bristol makes for smoother racing, including the ability to pass, and less temper tantrums.

You make the call. Was it good or bad racing?

Remember, it's all in the eyes of the beholder.

Next week: How Good Were The "Good Old Days?"

Weekend racing: It's Easter weekend, a traditional off-week for the Sprint Cup teams. The Camping Series Trucks are also idle. The only major racing will be the Nationwide Series at the 1.333-mile Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, April 11. It will be televised on ESPN, beginning at 3 p.m. (EDT).

Racing trivia question: How many Cup races did Kyle Busch win in 2008?

Last week's question: Where is the Sprint All-Star race held each year? Answer. Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. This year it will be held May 16.

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